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Defining the online health information divide

Previous research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project has shown that 80 percent of Internet users have searched online for information about any of 15 health topics such as a specific disease or treatment. But, for a considerable portion of adults in the United States, the ability to access the Internet for up-to-date information on drug recalls, food safety and treatment options or participate in patient networks is out of reach.

In a recent post on KevinMD, Susannah Fox, associate director at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, examines the online heath information divide and poses a solution to the barrier. She writes:

Only 29% of adults age 65+ look online for health information (mostly because only 40% have access to the internet), compared with 58% of 50-64 year-olds, 66% of 30-49 year-olds, and 71% of 18-29 year-olds who look online for health information. Yes, the internet is an amazing resource, but for whom? And whose voices are we not hearing from online? The wisdom of our elders is not well represented.

Caregivers are a potential bridge to older adults: fully 70% gather health information online. And young people, Latinos, and African Americans are increasingly likely to use mobile devices to gather information, which could potentially shift the patterns among those groups when it comes to using health information resources.

Previously: A detailed look at how Americans search for health information online, The third most popular activity on the Internet and More than half of U.S. adults turn to the Internet for health information
Photo by Neeta Lind

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